Catholic Primate Cardinal Seán Brady and representatives of a number of religious orders met victims and survivors of child abuse in Armagh today.
After the three-hour meeting, Cardinal Brady said he had apologised wholeheartedly and without reservation for the abuse the victims had suffered as children.
He said he found the meeting profoundly moving and reaffirmed the church's committment to co-operate fully with the inquiry into institutional abuse set up by the Stormont Assembly.
The group representing survivors said they were told a number of religious orders have begun searching their archives for evidence linked to child abuse.
A spokesman for the victims group said it had been a very positive meeting.
However, John McCourt added that they continue to press the Catholic Church to reveal all the information it had about child abuse in its institutions.